Large predatory coral trout species unlikely to meet increasing energetic demands in a warming ocean

J.L. Johansen, M.S. Pratchett, V. Messmer, Darren James Coker, A.J. Tobin, A.S. Hoey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increased ocean temperature due to climate change is raising metabolic demands and energy requirements of marine ectotherms. If productivity of marine systems and fisheries are to persist, individual species must compensate for this demand through increasing energy acquisition or decreasing energy expenditure. Here we reveal that the most important coral reef fishery species in the Indo-west Pacific, the large predatory coral trout Plectropomus leopardus (Serranidae), can behaviourally adjust food intake to maintain body-condition under elevated temperatures, and acclimate over time to consume larger meals. However, these increased energetic demands are unlikely to be met by adequate production at lower trophic levels, as smaller prey species are often the first to decline in response to climate-induced loss of live coral and structural complexity. Consequently, ubiquitous increases in energy consumption due to climate change will increase top-down competition for a dwindling biomass of prey, potentially distorting entire food webs and associated fisheries.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 8 2015

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